After a bout of severe illness last year, Lyndsey Tufo asked herself, “What's my passion?”

The answer was clear: animals. So Tufo started her pet-sitting service, Cover Your Tail, last December. A transplant from Connecticut, she had done animal rescue work for several years before moving to Lincolnville in 2011.

“I adore animals,” she said.

Now, besides taking care of pets, she fosters animals for the PAWS shelter and works with pets that have behavior problems. Additionally, she is starting a dog treat business called Backyard Bakery. All her work, including a full-time job as a product marketing manager for a Texas company, is done from her home. Naturally, she has pets of her own: Tessa, a German Shepherd puppy, and Riley, a rescued domestic shorthair cat.

For the safety of her pets and the animals she is fostering, she does not allow them to mix. Some of the PAWS animals are too small for immunizations and so must be kept away from other animals that might be carrying communicable diseases, even something the carrier itself is immune to. Animals also come for fostering to acquire the socialization that will make them desirable pets.

Tufo said keeping the foster animals separate from her own pets also helps her keep a little emotional distance, so “they don't become my pets.”

Tufo's pet-sitting is most often done in her customers' homes, because, “animals are more comfortable in their own home.” She arranges for a free “Meet-n-Greet” visit to get to know the animal(s), talk with the owner about special needs or preferences, go over any questions the customer may have, finalize payment details and pick up a key to the house.

Because customers trust her to come into their homes, Tufo is bonded, and her business is accredited by Pet Sitters International. The organization gives her service extra credibility, she feels, and also provides her with the chance to exchange information with other pet sitters.

If a customer wants to board their pet, Tufo is equipped to accommodate them. She has an indoor/outdoor enclosure off her basement for cats, and a kennel in her garage for dogs. She also has two acres of land surrounded by hiking trails, so canine guests get plenty of exercise.

Tufo does not limit her services to dogs and cats: “I'll take care of anything,” she said.

She has, in the past, cared for bunnies, chickens, goats, horses and snakes, as well as the more common types of pets.

Cover Your Tail offers a wide range of services, from taking pets to a grooming or vet appointment to dog walking to an outdoor pet adventure, followed by a bath, so Fido comes home well exercised and mud-free. Pet-sitting can also include some house-sitting services, such as bringing in mail, watering plants or turning lights on and off to make the home look lived in.

Sometimes Tufo has to work to earn an animal's trust. She said she spent weeks visiting one home before she pet-sat in order to win over the dog. She sat nearby and did not make eye contact so as not to challenge the animal, and eventually it came to her.

From pet owners, she asks for a phone call once they return home. She also wants them to be honest from the beginning about any issues with their animals.

She said business has been “very good.” Most of her customers are in Camden; she will go farther depending on the job.

For more information, Tufo can be reached at 789-5132 or coveryourtail@ymail.com. Her website is coveryourtail.net.