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Fido’s Friend: Perham woman goes barking up a new tree

Perham area pet owners now have a reliable person to call to watch over their four-legged friends while they’re away.

Long-time animal lover Sheila Jacobson has started a new pet-sitting business, Fido’s Friend. For a reasonable fee, the Perham woman will stop in to a client’s home to visit with, feed, walk, and play with the dogs, cats or other animals on site.

This way the pets are cared for on their own turf, without being taken out of their usual routine.

“People can just walk out the door and know somebody responsible will be stopping by,” Jacobson said.

In an interview last week, Jacobson described Fido’s Friend as “a stay-at-home pet-sitting service,” an alternative option to kenneling.

As an added bonus, Jacobson also brings in the mail and keeps an eye on her clients’ homes while they’re away.

While she focuses primarily on dogs and cats, Jacobson is open to all types of animals, on a case-by-case basis. She’ll also consider overnight assignments case-by-case, though she prefers to make her visits during the day and then return to her own home at night.

When she stops in on an animal or animals, she said, it’s not just to get business done and then get out the door. Jacobson said she likes to stay for a while and give the animals some extra attention, playing with them, talking to them, and giving them “a good belly rub.”

Sometimes Jacobson brings her two daughters along to play with the animals, as well. Kendra, age 16, and Tyla, 14, are learning the ropes from Mom and may one day work on their own for Fido’s Friend. With a dog and two cats of their own at home, the girls have already developed a love for animals, and have learned the basics of pet care.

This isn’t the first time Jacobson has run Fido’s Friend, but it’s her first time doing so in Perham. She originally started the business back in 2000, while living in Devil’s Lake, N.D. She continued to run the business there until 2004, shortly before moving to Perham.

Once here, she found a job at Schoeneberger Funeral Home and made the decision to not restart Fido’s Friend until she had more time in her schedule. She believes she has that time now, and she’s eager to get back to doing what she loves – taking care of animals.

“I’ve always been an animal lover,” she said while smiling at her own little dog, a sheltie named C.J., at her home last week. “I look at animals as your family, your kids. They have feelings.”

Jacobson has only a limited number of her own pets now, she said, because she’s living in a smaller house in town. But she and her husband Rob hope to find a home in the country one day soon, where they can live out their dream – taking in aging animals up for adoption and caring for them in their final years, months and days, giving them room to roam outdoors and plenty of love and attention.

“There are too many in the shelters that get to be old, and nobody’s going to adopt them,” Jacobson said. “I think their last few years should be spent out in the open.”

At the same time, she said, she would continue to run Fido’s Friend, plus operate a doggie “hotel” at her home.

That’s the long-term goal. For now, she’s starting with Fido’s Friend, which officially opened in Perham on April 1. She’s already had several calls, including some from out-of-town areas like Battle Lake and Sebeka. She’s willing to travel, she said, as long as her clients are OK with her mileage fee; the first eight miles are free, and it’s 50 cents per mile after that.

Jacobson’s basic rate is $10 per visit for the first two pets, or $25 for a day of three visits.

For more specific information on rates, or more information in general, call Jacobson at 218-298-1960 or visit the Fido’s Friend facebook page.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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