MINSTER – For the love of animals, a Minster woman has opened a pet-sitting service for dogs, cats and other animals that get less stressed in their own homes when owners are out of town.
Sandra White owns and operates Xtra Mile Pet Services from her home on South Garfield Street, but people’s pets do not come to her house – she goes to theirs. White is helped by her associate, Aria Gibson, a senior at Minster High School who has been a kennel worker for two years at Mile Creek Animal Hospital on North Main Street.
White said she applied for a job at Mile Creek after she moved to Minster five years ago.
“Dr. Leslie Winner (veterinarian and owner of the hospital) said she didn’t have a job for me,” said White, “but she said she really needed more boarding space.” Expanding Mile Creek’s kennels wasn’t planned, but Winner told White about caring for pets in the familiar surroundings where they live.
“Pets are our ‘fur babies,’ said White. “When their owners need to leave, sometimes pets can’t adapt to a kennel environment. They’re much more comfortable where they’re used to living – but they can’t be left alone. That where Xtra Mile Pet Services steps in.”
White and Gibson are insured and bonded to have keys to client’s private homes so they can care for the pets by taking them for a walk, serving up a meal or driving them to a vet appointment. They also will “house-sit” people’s homes, with or without pets.
Gibson said, “I’ve always loved animals, so I love working in the kennels or in their homes.” She is “shopping around” for as school with a veterinary technician program where she can study animal behavior. She and White are both certified in animal first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
And how does one perform CPR on a four-legged animal? White explained it’s the same chest-compression procedure as for a human. She also demonstrated blowing air into a dog or cat’s snout by forming a funnel with her hand – rather than “kissing” the dog on the lips.
Before deciding to establish a pet-sitting service, White had careers as a jewelry story manager and in sales and marketing. More recently she had a 17-year stint in pharmacy, which is “handy to know for animals,” she said, adding, “I’ve had pets for over 50 years, including raccoons.” She currently owns three poodles of different sizes – standard, toy and teacup.
Her adult affinity for domestic creatures dates to when she was pregnant with her first child, “many many years ago,” White joked. “I heard something squeaking and found a kitten with its umbilical cord still attached. I bottle-fed ‘Cricket,’ and she lived to be 16 years old.”
White quickly counted having 11 dogs over the years – including pit bulls, shepherds, poodles and a dachshund. She concedes that pit bulls can be lovable, “but they can be unpredictable, no matter how they’re raised.”
Poodles, however, are the breed that humans misunderstand the most, White said. “Many people think they’re just foo-foo, but they’re very intelligent and have a background in hunting – and they are very good guard dogs.” She said her 15-year-old standard poodle, Jackson, “is the most perfect dog ever. He’s so calm-natured, I call him my fireplace dog.”
The business brochure for Xtra Mile Pet Services says the agency “came from our love of animals and the need to become a voice for those who cannot speak.” White said, “I am so against animal abuse. If you truly love animals, sometimes you come to a gray line (witnessing abandonment or abuse). You need to decide whether to cross that line.”
White’s teacup poodle, Charlie, age 16, “speaks” for White’s attention, even though he’s deaf and almost blind. “He has separation anxiety when I’m not around,” she said. There are plenty of pets like Charlie who need White’s services.
She held an open house Oct. 9 to connect with new clients. Owners may phone Xtra Mile at 937- 726-4995 for information and prices of individual services. It also has a Facebook page.
White said she is expecting a surge of reservations from Thanksgiving weekend through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays when people travel and can’t take their pets along.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.