Eco-Touring For Dogs – April 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” April 2009.


Wheeler Pet Sitting, Inn And Resort
Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop

The discerning dog, the modern dog, the dog with social and environmental awareness would have very definite ideas about where he would like to spend his leisure time. He would seek a natural environment; nurturing to his body and soul. He would seek the company of other happy, healthy dogs in order to mingle with the like-minded canines of his choosing. This dog would request of his human family a home away from home when they are leaving home.  He would request a stay at Wheeler Pet Sitting, a “vacation haven for your dog while you are on vacation”.

I met Debby Wheeler at a Napa Chamber of Commerce luncheon.  My first impression was how nicely dressed she was; I admired her shawl of golden and green colors and noticed it matched the green of her eyes. I figured she was about my age, of “a certain age”. Amidst the lively conversation around the table I caught some information about how she had held an executive position in a large corporation for many years. She was able to retire and from there she started her business, Wheeler Pet Sitting, in the Napa Valley. She and her husband, Ed, have opened their home to bring in dogs while owners are out of town or on a daily basis while they are at work.  The Wheelers have three dogs of their own. As she described her business and principles of dog-sitting she mentioned a photo she has of her husband and four dogs lazing about in their bedroom. When Debby takes care of other people’s dogs, she insists that the dogs stay in the house with them. At Wheeler Pet Sitting there are no cages or kennels.  This is truly a “home away from home” for dogs.

Debby has a love of dogs that creates a connection far beyond what many consider a “dog-lover”. I saw a sophisticated woman, talented, accomplished and a former executive. And the business she has chosen to create, to dwell in, to consume her heart and home is the care of dogs. Debby and Ed are creating their success from the heart.

The Wheeler home is in the hills of Napa, off Dry Creek Road. Their property is surrounded by woods and dips down a ravine in the hillside. The house is large and open with a big deck off the back. There are various cozy dog beds, blankets and covers over furniture.  Their home is clean, comfortable and well-maintained. Pride in their home and how they care for family, friends and dogs is apparent all around. This is what I call an eco-destination for the dogs. When we talk of “responsible travel” we emphasize that the destination must be mindful of its impact on the environment. Wheeler Pet Sitting is this because it is their home and the Wheelers are conscious of their place in our Napa environment and community.  Their home is solar-powered and they have upgraded to high-efficiency appliances, furnace and a water pump for the well. They recycle their trash and use the Napa County FreeCycle Network ( when clearing out garages and storage. As an eco-destination Wheeler Pet Sitting provides a safe and nurturing environment for the dogs, encouraging joy and companionship for them. This feeling extends to their clients, the dog owners, and creates a community of health and well being.

As with any business Wheeler Pet-Sitting has been a work in progress. They have developed their “Bible” of policies and procedures to ensure that each client is fully informed and supported in obtaining the best experience for them and their dog. There is a complete interview process for each dog.  The Wheeler’s dog Heidi is the “test” dog to monitor the guest dog’s ability to mingle with others. Dogs have to be neutered and house trained both in “potty” matters and behavior. At times it comes down to trusting a gut feeling about the dog and on occasion the Wheelers have to turn away a potential guest/client. There is a manual of paperwork to follow for both the Wheelers and the dog owners: application, contract and disclosure, veterinarian release form, feeding habits, meds.

The mission of Wheeler Pet Sitting is to make their customers happy. It may seem to be the “standard” in some of the ways they implement this: helping find an alternative boarding facility if the Wheelers have a full house. Pickup and delivery of the dogs can be arranged and, when possible, extending hours to accommodate early delivery or late pickup without charge. But, getting to know Debby and her passion for dog care, I sense much deeper and broader commitments to the animals and people that the Wheelers serve. They have a one-on-one communication with each dog and know if their environment is not right for the pet and will give referrals to other facilities that are better suited to the dog. Through feedback to the owners, the Wheelers offer supportive solutions and information for behavior, feeding and health issues.  Through their love of dogs they have become experts in loving dog care that includes training, feeding, exercising and, of course, love. Debby states in the Wheeler Pet Sitting brochure: “This has been more rewarding than I ever dreamt possible. There is more love and caring in my heart to give your pets the time and attention they deserve.”

A portion of fees are donated to local animal organizations. Health and wellness are a priority. Our environment and community are supported. Your discerning dog will thank you for seeking a responsible travel destination for him or her. Debby and Ed Wheeler can be reached at 707-253-0173.


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