I heard today that Rover.com is worth nearly $1 billion, and I felt compelled to share what it’s really like using Rover as a helicopter-dog-parent (helicopter parent — not a helicopter dog), and shed some light on the business practices that made them so rich and successful.
My dog, Moose, is part of my family, but sometimes it feels like he’s a piece of my ❤️. More specifically, he’s the piece of my heart with amazing athletic abilities, a language barrier, and poor judgement. When I travel without him, I want to ensure his safety, security, and basic needs — food, water, and bathroom breaks. Super extra bonus 🎉 if you can entertain or challenge him, clean up his eye-boogers, or even just peel your eyes away from your phone for a few seconds — which, to my surprise, apparently isn’t necessary when satisfying my dog’s basic needs.
Over the past few years, I’ve used 3 different Rover sitters for about 20 “drop-ins” and over 30 nights of “house sitting”, ranging from an overnight trip to a two-week vacation abroad. My experiences have mostly ranged from underwhelming to disturbing. Below, I’ll share some details about these experiences, how Rover holds sitters accountable (they don’t), and whether you can trust reviews on Rover (you can’t).
Top 10 Rover Sitter Fails
When I look for a sitter on Rover, I read dozens of sitter profiles and hundreds of reviews from past clients. I narrow it down to some top choices and invite them for a meet & greet (a.k.a. interview), with the goal of finding someone who lives near my neighborhood, has good communication skills, clear thinking, and a history of animal care. I finally find the perfect sitter, and I pay them at the upper-end of the price spectrum, in hope that I will get a more professional level of care. Despite all of my efforts, these are the biggest mishaps to-date:
10. Spent most of the drop-in visit looking at their phone.
9. Didn’t notice they were ripping up the grass with the way they were playing.
8. Forgot to fill the water bowl — it was completely dry when I got home.
7. Brought their own “treats” — who knows what they were.
6. Burned incense in our kitchen sink, leaving the house smelling awful for over a week — imagine my dog’s experience.
5. Forgot to lock the back door.
4. Finished a whole bottle of whiskey and all of my beer. I offered it, but I didn’t expect them to drink all of it. They did replace the whiskey — but I’m more concerned about their ability to perform their job.
3. Forgot to lock the lockbox — anyone could have used the keys to get into the house, or taken them.
2. Left my dog at home without a bathroom break for 9 hours. I don’t expect other family members to go without a bathroom break for 8 hours, so I don’t expect him to hold it for 8 hours either. After I brought it up with the sitter, it didn’t happen again, and I believe the sitter that it was an honest mistake — they were busy at work and lost their sense of time.
1. Intentionally deceived me about sleeping overnight. I was going out of town, and they agreed to “house sit” and stay overnight at the house. When I left town, I told them that the guest bed had clean sheets. When they were done house-sitting, they took the sheets off the bed and put them in the washer for me — how thoughtful! Later, I was checking the outdoor security cameras, and noticed that they had left every night around 10–11pm, and returned every morning around 7–9am. The betrayal! I had [ … ]