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Drawing the line at tarantulas

Everything else is OK, says pet-sitter

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 05/02) - It's a dream business come true.

Anxiety over what to do with Pualuq and Tigger -- the family pets -- while travelling for work or pleasure is a thing of the past for Iqalungmiut thanks to a venture started up by 15-year-old Orla Osborne.

NNSL Photo

Orla Osborne holds the litter of pups her dog Alanna gave birth to this summer. After learning to care for animals, Osborne started up The Pet Minding Service this summer. - Kerry McCluskey/NNSL photo

The young Iqaluit woman wanted to get a job for the summer, but found herself limited in what she could do while she awaits her Canadian citizenship. Osborne and her family moved to Iqaluit from Ireland late last year.

She considered her options and then decided to turn her love for animals creatures into a small business, called Pet Minding Services.

"I like animals," said Osborne, explaining her choice.

She said she thought about getting the service off the ground at Christmas, but put it off until school wrapped up for the year. Running since the beginning of July, Osborne comes into your home twice a day and feeds, waters and walks your domestic beasts -- all for the price of $20 per day.

"I generally care for pets while people are away," said Osborne, a skill she acquired growing up in Ireland.

"I've had lots of experience with animals -- horses, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, gold fish," she said.

Osborne's dog, Alanna, just gave birth to a litter of three pups so she prefers to do her work in the home of her prospective clients.

There's just one catch. While Osborne will look after pet snakes or rats, she doesn't do spiders.

"If somebody had a tarantula, I just couldn't do it," she said.

Jimi Onalik likes the idea of Osborne's initiative. The owner of two dogs and a steady traveller, Onalik is always looking for someone to assist him with their care. He said he would "definitely" use a service like Osborne's for the dogs he described as a "handful".

Ditto for Bill Riddell, a caregiver of two dogs and two cats.

"It appeals to us mainly because the animals' lives are not disrupted. They're in their own environment and they know what the routines are. I prefer that," said Riddell.

As for the cost of the service, Riddell said it is well worth the headache of finding reliable people who want to care for your pets.

"Absolutely," he said.