Safely home alone

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Domino, a dachshund basset mix, bellows out a forlorn cry each time his sitter Karl Buchholz diverts his attention.

“What is it, boy?” Karl asks as he rubs Domino’s face. “I’m sorry, am I not paying enough attention to you?”

Domino’s owners, Kiran and Pallavi Sunkavalli of Hoover, recently left for a trip to India. Not wanting Domino or their pug Sake to stay caged up at a kennel, they called the Burchholzs who operate Red Dog Sitting in Alabaster.

“The dogs like the attention we can give them,” said Karl’s wife, Cydney. “Plus, they get to be in their home and in their bed, with their smells.”

Each pet has its own needs, the Buchholz said.

Some visits are simple. The Buchholzs might walk the owner’s dog, change a litter box and provide a treat. Other pet visits require more attention.

Charles Crouse of Calera recently brought home a black lab puppy. He had called the Buchholzs before he even got the dog because of his tight work schedule. Crouse said he was glad he did, because the dog ended up with a bad case of pneumonia. He said Karl Buchholz even showed up at the vet the day Shadow came home.

“They pretty much helped me all the way through it,” Crouse said. “They stayed with the dog while I was at work just about every day for two weeks until he was better.”

The Buchholz provide every bit of information to the owners through e-mail and a written journal. They even send pictures via cell phone.

“We’ll talk about the consistency of the poop if they want us to,” Karl said. “Our clients really love their animals and they will do just about anything to make sure they are well cared for.”

The Buchholz said they were drawn to the pet sitting for many reasons.

The two wanted to spend more time together, they love animals and they know what it feels like to return from a vacation to an upset and even sick animal.

Several years ago, Cydney picked up their then 6-month-old dauschund Izzy from a four-day boarding at a vet.

“I really liked the vet we left our Izzy with and never had a problem before,” Cydney said. “But when we picked Izzy up, she had lost weight, her fur was dull and she was shaking all over. I just started crying.”

Cydney said she wants her clients to be able to relax when they are away. She said coming home to a sick animal doesn’t help.

Red Dog Sitting began offering services in February. They said they’ve seen every kind of pet family possible.

They’ve taken care of families with one cat to families with birds, cats, dogs and guinea pigs. Cydney said she would probably have to draw the limit at caring for snakes though.

They’ve gained plenty of experience at home with multiple animals. They currently have two dogs and six cats.

Though it doesn’t cost extra, the Buchholz also often pick up the mail, change lights and water plants for homeowners. Karl said the business means a lot of responsibility, but they love it.

“Our clients are trusting us with their homes as well,” he said. “We try to always reward that loyalty and trust.”

The business is even insured and bonded through our membership in Pet Sitters International.

The Buchholz contribute five percent of their proceeds to local human societies and are currently looking for smaller organizations to support.

For more information, visit For more information on charities they support, visit