Many of my clients and friends here in San Antonio know that I am not originally from this area. I grew up in a small town in northern Illinois and lived in a slightly larger town in central Illinois until my husband and I moved here in 2012. I'm what the natives might call a "Northerner" or "Yankee."
Moving to San Antonio has been an eye opening experience for my husband and me. Between the drastic weather difference, culture shock, and living in a large city, I've had my fair share of learning opportunities. Becoming a full time, professional pet sitter last year, has also made me aware of some new things.
So, what have I learned?
San Antonio and the surrounding suburbs have no shortage of homeless and stray animals.
Unfortunately, this is one of the very few negatives about this area. Back in small town Illinois, it was rare to see a stray animal wandering the streets. I have come to realize in my few years in San Antonio that there is a large amount of stray, homeless, and unwanted animals in the area. After many attempts to catch all the strays I came across, I finally had to realize that one person just simply cannot save them all. So, I am trying my best to donate time, money, and goods to the local no kill shelters in the hopes that they can help as many animals as possible find loving homes. And, when I can, I try to educate others about the importance of spaying and neutering.
The "scary" dog breeds are not scary.
In my year as a professional pet sitter, I have met and looked after many different breeds of dogs, from 4 pound Yorkies to 120 pound Great Danes. When I tell people I have sat for Pit Bulls, I sometimes get the question "Aren't you scared they'll bite you?" My answer is no, and then I quietly laugh to myself. Of all the breeds I've looked after, the most gentle/biggest babies have been Pit Bulls, Boxers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Huskies. This is not to say these breeds can't be aggressive; any dog can be aggressive. Have I ever been bitten? Yes, by an extremely elderly dog who was blind and deaf and you would never assume in a million years would hurt a fly. (No worries - I wasn't hurt, the dog wasn't hurt. It was all a big misunderstanding and we worked things out.) The big dog breeds can be forceful and sometimes do not realize their own strength, but overall, none of them worry me in any way.
If it's raining, be prepared for flooding and traffic.
When it rains here, it typically pours. It seems that heavy rain in San Antonio will usually lead to flooding which leads to roads being closed. (And let's not forget all of the accidents that often bring roads to a halt.) As a pet sitter, especially when client visits are very time sensitive (e.g. medications needed), it was soon apparent that I need to know other ways to get to my clients' homes when the main roads are closed. And as rockin' as my Prius is, I do not try to drive it through a flooded road....sadly, she probably wouldn't make it.
San Antonio gets kind of hot in the summer.
Clearly this is no shocker to anyone who has lived in San Antonio for awhile. I knew before I moved here that the summers were hot. But until I left my air conditioned office job, I did not fully appreciate just how hot it really gets down here. Now, I will walk dogs early or late in the day to avoid the heat and sun. I also feel the concrete and cement before doing any walks. And if it's just too darn hot to walk dogs, I let them out to potty, then relax with them in the A/C!
Traffic is, um, interesting?
"But Julie, you're from Illinois, surely the traffic in Chicago is much worse?" Yes, I'm from Illinois, but I did not live in or near Chicago, so rarely did I encounter any kind of big city traffic. Since moving to Texas, I know it is best to avoid any major highways during morning and evening commutes. Also, traffic magically becomes less of a hassle in the summer when school is not in session.
Natives think anything lower than 50 degrees is "cold" weather. (And suddenly, so do I.)
Up north, winters lasted between 5-6 months. Winter in Illinois meant snow, ice, blizzards, freezing rain, freezing wind, temperatures below zero, wearing lots of layers, getting your car stuck in a ditch, getting your car out of a ditch, shoveling your driveway, scraping your car windows, and having the snot in your nose freeze when you walked outside. Winter in San Antonio usually consists of some chilly days in the 30s or 40s and maybe a random ice storm that promptly shuts down the whole city. When we first moved here in 2012, I giggled at the people who would be "freezing" when it got down to 50 degrees. Three years later, I'm turning into one of those people. When you're so accustomed to the usually sunny and warm weather here, any mildly cold day starts to feel like an arctic blast!
There are a lot of snails on the sidewalk when it rains. Walk with caution.
That feeling and sound when you accidentally walk on a snail..... Enough said.
My clients are AWESOME.
Last, but certainly not least, I have met some of the most amazing pet owners since becoming a pet sitter. People who love animals, no matter how introverted or shy, just tend to get each other on a different level. I have been blessed to have so many wonderful people ask me to look after their equally wonderful pets. And I have no doubt I will find many more wonderful clients in San Antonio and the surrounding areas I service.