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Man’s best friend has a pal to call his own

By Alecia Brooks
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– Leaving for the day, weekend or an extended amount of time –for vacation, hospitalization or otherwise – can pose a problem when pets are involved.
Where will they stay, and with whom? How much will it cost, and will the pet feel comfortable? These are just a few questions that may pop up before care of the family pet is entrusted to an outside source.
But one sitter believes the best place to leave a pet is at home and is a decision that offers a health benefit.
“Pets just feel more secure at home,” said Mary Stigers, who became the owner of a North Liberty based business named Pals 2 Paws in March. “A lot of times when they are boarded, they get upset and sick, especially cats.”
She said a choosing to leave the pet home as opposed to communal boarding means pets won’t be susceptible to diseases and other illnesses.
“I wash up between seeing pets and practice careful sanitation,” she said.
In addition to sanitation, Stigers said becoming a pal to your pet means her services–which cover feeding, physical activity, medications and more– will maintain pets’ needs while owners are away. And to ensure a smooth transition, pet owners should contact Stigers one to two weeks in advance before her services will be needed, although last minute requests are accepted.
Advance notice will allow the owner to complete a questionnaire about how the pet uses its environment, feeding proportions, vaccination and other useful information, and give Stigers an opportunity to set a schedule that generally includes letting the pet outdoors three times a day and providing transportation to appointments.
In addition to these services, Stigers will also administer medications and shots.
Before Stigers inherited the business, services previously catered to dogs, cats and horses, but the new owner said she will care for any animal. And mail pick-up, watering plants, opening shades and turning on lights are extra services that have remained through the ownership transfer – a change that was somewhat unexpected.
The previous owners were moving and had considered closing the business because they didn’t have a supplementary owner, she said. At the time, Stigers was using the business to assist with horse training and wanted it to continue.
Since becoming the owner in March, Stigers said her list of clients has expanded, along her service region, which now includes Solon and the area located on the border of Johnson and Linn County.
Although running a pet-sitting business is a new profession, Stigers said she’s always had a love for nature, which was discovered when she was just four-years-old.
“My mother said one day I was sitting on the porch for hours, and she asked, ‘What are you doing?’” Stigers said she replied, “I’m watching the sun go down.”
As she grew older, her resume grew to include work with animals at a veterinarian’s office and at the University of Iowa. But for 28 years, her primary profession was gardening at the college.
“I enjoyed the president’s house and the pond by the Iowa Memorial Union because I like water gardening and because I could do lots of interesting looks,” she said.
She added that the most thrills came from receiving appreciation for her work.
One student told Stigers, “‘This reminds me of my grandmother’s garden,’” Stigers said. “I took a lot of pride in what I did.”
And the same sentiment transfers to Pals 2 Paws.
“I love the animals, and I worry about them,” she said. “I also try to spend a little extra time with the pets whose owners are on vacation because no is coming home that night.”
Stigers has also gained experience with animal care by personally providing care to a variety of animals over the years.
“I’ve taken in orphans and have nursed animals back to health, and I have enjoyed them all,” she said.
Presently, her farm is home to Izzy the donkey, Andy the dog and Cody the pony, as well as three more donkeys, five additional dogs, two cats and a fish pond. The farm once housed lamas and pigs.
“I’ve always had a love for animals, and I really do enjoy this,” she said.
For pricing and more information, Stigers can be reached at 319-331-1809 or by emailing info@Pals2Paws.com. For information, visit www.pals2paws.com.