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Meet Our Team


Toy Tester


Office Manager


Customer Care

Hi, I am Tamra Gardiner, and I am an "animal person".

One of my very earliest memories is of our first family dog, a feisty  Sheltie named Trixie.  I grew up always having dogs and cats around, and even a pet Rhode Island Red named Wishbone. From the Collies of my childhood to my own pets raised from puppies and kittens, as well as fish, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs and a beautiful Bearded Dragon, I have always found joy in sharing my home with animals. The dogs of my earlier days of pet ownership have always been larger breeds- Thor, a rescued Elkhound with severe separation anxiety; Queenie, an inherited Samoyed; Belle, a gun-shy Golden Retriever; with the last big dog being a  60 lb muscular Lab-Chow, named Zoe, raised from a pup. Four years ago we discovered the lure of smaller dogs when we adopted a male Boston Terrier named Max, pictured above. Bitzy, our 10-year-old female Boston was next, and unbeknownst to us came with several serious medical issues. Maddie, our first foster fail in the middle picture above, is another one with separation anxiety, and is a work in progress.  


With each creature came the desire to learn as much as possible about how to

provide optimal care. 

Professionally, until November 2016, I worked in the developmental disabilities field at an agency in Talbot County, Maryland for the last 14 years. I started out working in a group home as a direct care professional and worked my way up the ladder, enjoying every minute. For the last five years, I served as the Residential Services Director. I left that position to focus on a degree that I had been working on for way too long, and after a couple of months of decompression, began to really indulge my love for animals and began to foster dogs through Celebrating Pugs and Pups (Hill Hounds Animal Rescue and Sanctuary). 

The idea for starting At Home and Loving It Pet Care was planted when my fiance and I found ourselves in Baltimore on a snowy day in need of unexpected last-minute pet care. I realized then that we needed to have a plan beyond my son! With our crew, I knew that boarding at a kennel was not an option. While there are those for whom kenneling is an acceptable choice, for many animals, it is just too stressful. But, I am picky about who cares for my beloved pets. After doing some research, I decided to create the kind of service I would want.

I bring to the pet care arena a very professional work ethic, huge love, and respect for all creatures, and a desire to "pet all the dogs and cats".  I am highly responsible and dedicated to the care of your pet. I am not just swinging by in my "work" day to check on your pet- the health and well-being of your pet IS my work. Interested in learning what my company can do for you and your pets? Take a look at our Services and Rates page.

What does a professional pet sitter do, and why should I hire one?

If this is your first foray into looking for a professional pet sitter or dog walker, you may wonder what the benefits are of having a pet professional care for your pets in your home. Below are some of the benefits to you and your pets.

  • First and foremost, caring for pets is what we do full time. We have special industry insurance coverage through Pet Sitters Associates, LLC. We are certified in pet CPR and First Aid. We participate in ongoing training and education in order to provide the absolute best care for your pets and the most professional experience for you. Sometimes asking that young family member or the teenager down the street provides less than satisfactory care of your pets and/or home, because, well... teenager. 

  • Having a pet sitter come to your home is convenient- no kennel or doggie daycare drop off or pick up during times that may not work with your travel itinerary or work schedule.

  • Boarding kennels and doggie daycares can be stressful for many dogs and cats. For adopted animals that have a shelter experience in their background, being boarded at a kennel can be extremely frightening and traumatic. Kennels and daycares, regardless of how good they are, expose your loved ones to potential infestation or illness.

  • We follow your pet's normal routine as closely as humanly possible to minimize disruption, which is more likely to result in a calmer, happier pet.

  • A regular presence taking out the trash, bringing in mail, and coming and going throughout the day adds a layer of safety to your home.

  • Pet professionals do more than just put food in a dish and let your dog out to do its business. We observe your pet for potential problems or changes in behavior. It may sound weird, but we pay attention to what and how your dog is eliminating: blood in the urine, straining to poop, very hard or very soft stool are all indicators of problems. If caught early, these can be dealt with BEFORE they turn into serious problems for your pet.

  • Developing a relationship with us means that if there is a last-minute invitation to a fun event after work, we are a phone call away.  By ensuring your beloved pets are taken care of, you are free to enjoy.  And,  you won't walk into a "messy" situation at the end of the night. 

  • If you have a work commute of any length or just work long hours, you may have wished that getting your pet to the vet or groomer was more convenient. You either have to take off work or use your precious weekend time for these tasks. At Home and Loving It offers Pet Taxi services as an additional service to their customers.

  • The workday can be hard on pets, especially dogs that don't have access to a pet door. While some dogs do well at a doggie daycare and really love the social aspect, that setting is not suitable for all. Senior dogs, dogs with health issues, dogs with aggression problems, and dogs that just aren't that into running around with other dogs may not be good candidates for a daycare. By having a dog-walker provide a midday romp, your dog will not be bouncing off the walls when you get home, desperate to go out and do their business. 

  • A walk or play break in a long day of waiting for their family to get back home provides a dog or cat with mental stimulation as well as some exercise and a chance to relieve themselves.  For animals, a walk is their opportunity to read their "pee-mail" and catch up on the neighborhood gossip. This equals better behavior as a bored, frustrated dog can become destructive or overly barky. Indoor cats can also benefit from exercise as an energy outlet.  

  • Regular exercise improves muscle tone and mobility, helps to keep dogs and cats at an ideal weight, and can help them live a longer life with better health- just like us! The motion of walking is crucial to their healthy digestion and bowel movements. Also, some dogs may be able to "hold it", but that doesn't mean it is good for them. 

  • We work with you on the reinforcement of training techniques. Walking and playtime provide routine practice for basic commands (heel, wait, sit, etc.) and leash manners. Note that dog walking does not take the place of proper obedience training. We only help to support the dog's established training through repetition.

  • Some high-energy dogs need more exercise than you can provide; having a professional walk him once a day and/or give him a couple of power walks once or twice a week can result in a calmer, happier dog.

  • The ability to relax if you get stuck in traffic, at work, or have car trouble = priceless. You may have other things to worry about, but your dog waiting at home doing the pee-pee dance is not one of them. You can rest in the knowledge that they had a mid-day visit and will be fine until you get home. Or you can call to see if we have availability to let them out again and give them dinner. 

We also offer house checks to people who don't have pets but want someone to be a presence at their house, either through house sitting or checks during the day and evening.

    What about boarding kennels-                 aren't they cheaper?

Maybe at first glance, but let's take a closer look. For example, the basic cost for 1 dog up to 40 pounds at a local kennel is $26.00 per day. This includes up to 3x feedings, 2x "business walks" (described as a 5-10 minute trip outside to eliminate), and treats if requested. Want your dog to have a 15-minute exercise walk for stress relief? Add $8.00. How about some individual playtime? That's an additional $5.00. If you want your dog to have an opportunity to eliminate before bedtime, that's an extra $3.00 for another "business walk". Does your pet need medication? That's extra, as much as $5.00. And there are more extras for more dollars, but let's add up what we have so far for one small to medium-sized dog: 26 + 8 + 5 + 3 + 5 = 47.

So, $47 for what amounts to approximately 40 minutes spent with your dog.  Hmmm, we'll come back to that in a minute.

Are you a two-dog family, as many are? Add $44 to your bill to make $91.


Cats and small creatures like ferrets are extra of course ($17 and $15 respectively).

So, 91 + 17 + 15 = 123. $123.00 per day.

The website says you are welcome to bring favorite blankets, toys, etc. but they must be expendable because they could disappear or get damaged. The kennel can also supply items for a fee. 

And you have to get your pets, their food, and their comfort items to and from the kennel within the required time frame; if you can't that is at least an extra half day charge.

For comparison, what would $123 per day get you if you used At Home and Loving It Pet Care?  We don't charge extra for additional pets or administering medication, so you could schedule 3x one hour visits for $114 (3 hours of care), or 6x 30-minute visits (3 hours of care) for $120, or 4x 45-minute visits for $112 (3 hours of care), or even an overnight package that includes breakfast, dinner and three or more walks for $110.


Would you even need all of those visits to provide good care at home for those pets? While every situation is different, it is quite possible that something like a (very) minimal schedule of a 45 minute visit in the morning, a quick 15 minute midday potty break for the dogs, and a 30 minute dinner and walk visit could be sufficient (again, it completely depends on your individual pets). That would be $63- about half of what the kennel would be and more time actually devoted to your pets.

But what if we are only looking a boarding one dog for $47 a day? Is it cheaper than  At Home and Loving It coming in two or three times a day? Two 30 minute visits and a 15-minute midday potty break (the absolute bare minimum) is $55, but provides more time for directly caring for and interacting with your beloved family member. For $8 more, your pet can feel secure in his home. 


All of this is not to discount boarding kennels or to criticize anyone who ever used or uses a kennel. For some pets, perhaps it is a workable solution. But they can be loud and very frightening to many a pet. Your pet is subjected to non-stop barking and risks exposure to contagious diseases like kennel cough. Coming home with stress-induced colitis is also a distinct possibility. Their temporary living environment is a far cry from the safety of their "den", and some dogs shut down or stop eating when at a kennel. 

For senior animals, animals that suffer from illnesses, like Cushing's disease, that compromise their immune response, or animals that have the trauma of a shelter stay in their past, being boarded in a kennel could be detrimental physiologically as well as emotionally. No matter what the price difference is between boarding and hiring a pet sitter, the true cost is not found in a spreadsheet.

What does a typical visit from At Home and Loving It Pet Care look like?

Each visit truly is customized according to the client's routine, but a visit could include any or all of the following, depending on what was agreed upon and the time slot purchased: 

  • a jovial, cheery greeting upon entering the house (if appropriate for your pet)

  • taking the dog(s) out for a quick potty upon arrival

  • feeding and medicating pets

  • lots of love and conversation

  • walking your dog or going into the backyard for elimination, play, and exercise

  • more loves

  • drying off wet dogs, cleaning paws of any potential ice-melt

  • cleaning out a cat box, guinea pig cage, or birdcage

  • some more love and chatting (we will even read to your pets)

  • putting out fresh water and washing food bowls

  • watering a few plants

  • playing, snuggling, and/or interacting with other pets as appropriate

  • giving a bath, drying, and brushing (and a belly rub or two)

  • checking for accidents in crate or house and cleaning up if found 

  • checking that windows and doors are locked

  • take out/bring in trash or recycling

  • bring in mail, turn off/on light, open/close drapes or blinds

  • leaving your pet's favorite radio or TV station on 

  • a daily report and photo via Time to Pet

  • And whatever else your unique critter(s) might want or need






Meet Our Team
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