Everyone at some point or another goes on a vacation and they leave the care of their house and/or animals in the hands of family or friends. Whether they are gone for a week or a weekend, there are many things that they may want done while they're gone. From watering plants and getting the newspaper, to feeding the dogs and giving the cat its medicine, the tasks are left with someone they trust. Recently, I've been asked to pet-sit for two different families in two very different ways. I wanted to share my experiences of doubt and worry, and anticipation and joy, from working with the pets and their respective owners.

Stage 1: Being Asked

Oh, the responsibility that is lifted onto your shoulders when someone asks, "Would you be willing/able to watch my (insert pet's names or animals here)?"

Stage 2: Checking the schedule

Okay, say you're perfectly willing, but you still have to figure out how to fit it in with work and family plans of your own for that time.

Stage 3: Saying Yes

(to the stress) All joking aside, now that you've said you'll do it, you start worrying about how well you'll do with it.

Stage 4: Meeting the Parents

I mean, the owners. You probably already know them pretty well, but this time you're promising to take care of their loved ones while they're away.

Stage 5: Making a List

(and checking it twice. Or four times, or six.) Everything you could possibly need to know about their pets is now written on paper, your hand/arm, and your phone. You'll need it for food times, their phone numbers, what time to take them out, which medicine goes to whom, etc.

Stage 6: The Parents Leave

And you are now in charge of their house for the foreseeable future.

Stage 7: Figuring out the Pets

They either like you or they don't, but now it's your job to take care of them.

Stage 8: Knowing what to do

After a while, you get to the point where you don't need the alarms or the reminders to go take care of them.

Stage 9: The Parents Come Home

The welcome-home is always so fun to watch. The pets get so excited to see the ones they love again.

Stage 10: You get Paid

And then you get to return the key to their house.

Bonus Stages:

1. Something Goes Wrong

A cat gets outside and you have to chase it down, or a dog won't eat as much as you think it will.

2. You lock yourself out

Seriously, it happened once. Luckily, I called a different family member that could help me out quickly.

3. You fall for the animals

You've spent more time with them than you ever had and now you don't really want to leave them.