Animal care

I like animals so I also enjoy looking after other people’s pets (and homes). So I do this from time to time, as a private person (I don’t operate a house-sitting or pet-sitting business). Depending on the time of the year and where I am at the time, I may also be able to look after your cat(s), dog(s), bird(s) and perhaps a horse or donkey or two.

2016: Staffordshire bull terrier Cassie
This older rescue Staffie was pretty happy and relaxed in my home. She was great fun. We went on many long walks, and ran and played a lot. She always became very anxious when she noticed that someone was taking a photo, however, so I limited photos to snaps like these.

In Florida in the 1990s, I looked after Peter Betzer family’s dog and cockatiel, several other marine science colleagues’ cats (one of them had three or four cats) and USF librarian Susan Sherwood’s iguana and macaw while these people were on vacation.

I have even had the pleasure of looking after a sensitive older rescue Staffie in my home for about a month.

Also in Florida, I got into seabird rehabilitation with the wonderful and globally well-respected bird champion and oil spill contingency planner Lee Fox.

Freshly arrived from Amsterdam, I decided that volunteering might be a great way to grow roots in the local community so I started calling around for volunteering opportunities. Lee’s facility PSRC was the first to call back. I knew nothing about birds at that point, and have learned a lot since.

As part of my own household, I have had two feral quaker parrots (Myiopsitta monachus) and emigrated with them twice, three rescue cats who also emigrated with me three times (twice with my first two cats and once with my third cat), and a spunky cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus).

In recent years, I have rehabbed a few pigeons (Columba livia). Pigeons are highly intelligent gentle creatures that I had essentially ignored for decades, embarrassingly. The most recent one stayed with me for six months and taught me a lot. I am very grateful for the experience. I have also on occasion grabbed a highly inquisitive pigeon who had ventured into a store.

In addition, I’ve gone fox-watching a few times. (Britain has flourishing urban fox populations.)

I grew up looking after and interacting with a wide range of animals (cats, dogs, horses, calves, pigs, a guinea pig, stick insects and more), and roaming the moors and woods behind our house (Brunssumerheide). I rode horses for a while, too.

Dogs tend to like me. Sometimes, dogs (strangers!) come running when they see me, tail wagging. For a quick hello. It’s even happened that a dog spontaneously came running and threw herself at my feet. Dogs seem to trust me and consider me reliable. Particularly larger dogs.

No longer having pets of my own these days enables me to travel more easily and look after people’s homes and animals.

This spunky creature was part of my household for 21 years. She was still a youngster when she was brought to a wild-bird hospital in Florida where I was volunteering at the time.
It was against the law to release wild birds of this particular species, and she was unable to fly anyway so she needed a home. I adopted her along with quaker parrot Mohawk. I had noticed that these birds are never on their own in the wild, so I wanted to adopt at least two of them, for increased well-being, and I housed Sioux and Mohawk together.

Feel free to contact me if you would like me to look after your home and animals for a while. You can now also find me on Pawshake. (That takes care of insurance aspects, for your peace of mind.)

I clean and disinfect with F10, a high-end veterinary product.


2016: This pigeon had accidentally gotten locked up somewhere and was dehydrated when I spotted the creature. No muscle power. No lift. Stayed with me for nine days. Already doing pretty well again in this photo.

Lee Fox was in charge of loads of volunteers cleaning up oiled pelicans after the 1993 oil spill in Tampa Bay and set a global survival record for oiled birds. Lee Fox and a team of volunteers were also involved in the Prestige spill clean-up in Europe.
Photo: Dawn Waldt.

1994: Ducks were very rare at Pinellas Seabird Rehabilitation Center (PSRC).
We often had pelicans, many different heron species, double-crested
cormorants, anhingas, gulls and many many more. Ducks? Nope.
Photo: Dawn Waldt



This photo shows another rehab pigeon, four days after I found her and took her with me. As you can see, she was feeling pretty damn miserable back then. She turned out to be very wise, smart, stubborn and highly inquisitive. She stayed with me for six months, through the winter. She left with a fresh set of feathers and a heck of a lot more energy. (I’ll say!)