Sitter extraordinaire

Kelley Denz

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

Kelley Denz’s south Chico home was bustling with canine activity during a recent visit. It kind of comes with the territory, as Denz shares the space with Sadie, her border collie/Queensland heeler mix (she thinks—Sadie was a rescue), and on this particular day, she had three other dogs in residence. Denz runs Sitter for Your Critters, which offers services ranging from daytime walks to staying with a pet while the plumber stops by to boarding and even staying at owners’ homes while they’re on vacation. Last month, Sitter for Your Critters celebrated its five-year anniversary, and in that time it’s grown from a one-woman show to one necessitating two employees (and Denz is looking to hire a third). Denz grew up on a cattle ranch outside of Yreka. Chico State brought her here, and she fell in love with the community. Her company is fully bonded and insured, she says, which gives both her and her clients piece of mind, and she offers online scheduling along with other resources for her clients. Most of all, though, she’s happy to have found a way to be around animals as a full-time job. Find Denz and get an online quote at

What got you into this business?

My mom, when I was a child, told me I could have a horse if I earned the money. So I went around to all the neighbors and … I started pet sitting back then. The first one was a milk cow, and some dogs and horses. I was 9 at the time, and I’ve been pretty much doing it ever since. I got to a point where I was taking care of mostly friends’ and family members’ pets, but then it was either, quit doing that or do it full time. Obviously, I chose to do this full time.

Did you raise the money to get a horse?

Yes, I got my first horse when I was 12. It took me a few years, but I did it.

Any funny pet-sitting stories?

I have a kitty named William that I take care of, and you walk through the door and the first thing he does is expect you to pick him up. If for some reason you wait even a half-second, he will straight-up attack your leg—you know, bite, claws. It kind of hurts, but it’s mostly funny.

Are there any pets you won’t work with?

I won’t feed snakes live animals. But other than that, no. I know some pet sitters won’t do the bully breeds, but I do. I have several clients who have pit bulls, and I’m fine with it—it’s not a breed issue; it’s an individual dog issue. I used to have a Jenday Conure—a cockatoo—and different types of birds. I’ve taken care of iguanas, snakes, rats, lots of livestock, chinchillas, even frogs. Someone had me come take care of their frogs—I was kind of surprised, but OK!