Whether I'm talking to a current or potential client, a friend, or a family member, I get asked a lot of questions about what I do. Some of the same questions come up on a regular basis. So, I thought, why not make a blog post and answer some of the common questions that come up?
The More "Serious" Questions:
How long have you been pet sitting?
I have been a full time professional pet sitter since August of 2014. That means I'm a registered business with the state of Texas and I have liability and bonding insurance. This is my full time job and only source of income. Although I've only been pet sitting for two years, I've been taking care of animals my whole life. I've always had pets and could not imagine my life without them.
Why did you decide to become a pet sitter?
Growing up I always knew I wanted to work with animals in some fashion. I never thought I could be a veterinarian but still wanted to do something in the animal field. When I started college, I told my academic advisor about my goals, and she laughed at me and said I would have to go to another college if I wanted to work with animals. Being a naive 18 year old, I decided to pursue a business degree instead of questioning why I could not pursue an animal related education. I graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management and immediately began working in the HR/Payroll field. After seven years of working in offices, I was burnt out and unhappy. I decided to make the leap and began working as a Kennel Technician with a local veterinary clinic. I was willing to take a huge pay cut in order to work with animals and pursue my dreams. Unfortunately that position was not what I imagined and I resigned soon after starting. After many conversations with my own pet sitter and other sitters in the area, I finally decided it was time to become my own boss and start pet sitting full time. I haven't looked back since!
Do you stay busy?
Yes. There are times of the year that are slower than others, but I'm always working. If I'm not fully booked with visits, I'm working on marketing, networking, or continuing my education. Rarely am I sitting around bored.
Are you hiring?
At this time, I am not hiring. I am a one woman show for now and so far can manage my workload on my own. My client base continues to grow and I don't doubt that one day I will probably be in the market for an assistant or employee.
Why should someone hire you when they could use the neighbor kid/cousin/friend/coworker for much cheaper or free?
I'll admit, I've used the neighbor kid/cousin/friend/coworker to look after my animals in the past. Thankfully, the people I asked to help were extremely responsible and reliable. How I differ from the others is that this is my full time job. I take extreme pride and care in what I do. When someone books me to watch their pets, I'm committed to doing so. I will not be canceling or forgetting to show up to feed the cats or let the dogs out. Also, I am insured. If something were to happen on my watch (and so far, nothing has), my insurance will often cover it. Yes, I'm more expensive than others, but when you hire me, you're getting peace of mind and assurance that your pets and home will be exceptionally taken care of.
It must be so awesome to play with cats and dogs all day!
Yes, I'm sure it is, but unfortunately that's not what I do all day. If it were, then every animal lover on the planet would be a pet sitter. Like any other job, pet sitting comes with the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good - I get to spend a ton of time with animals. I love animals. They are my passion and purpose in life. The bad - Some animals are difficult to work with. Some entire visits are spent preparing the specialized food or cleaning up messes or chasing a dog down to give her medicine. I spend a lot of time doing boring things like paperwork, filing, and accounting. The ugly - I've been bitten, clawed, scratched, knocked down, peed on, and more. I've cleaned up pee, poop, puke, and diarrhea explosions. I've had to break up multiple dog fights. And by far the worst, was finding one of my client's sweet dogs passed away in his bed.
Do you see weird and crazy things in clients' homes?
No. And even if I did, I wouldn't tell others about it. When I go into a client's home, my priority is caring for the animals and making sure the house is in working order. I've seen messes, funny photos, and unique decor, but aside from that, I'm typically not paying attention to clients' "stuff" unless it's related to the care of their animals.
The "Fun" Questions:
What's the strangest type of animal you've watched?
The majority of the animals I watch are cats and dogs. But, I have looked after ferrets, birds, fish (including a huge puffer fish), reptiles, and one mini pig. And although they weren't part of the pet sitting job, I recently had a yard full of deer at one client's home that I would feed.
Do you like cats or dogs better?
I'm right in the middle on this one. I love both cats and dogs. Cats are easy to care for. My two cats are extremely cuddly and loving. In fact, my oldest cat is head butting me while I type this. But many cats are shy and don't care to be bothered with petting or cuddles. Dogs require a lot more care. However, most dogs I've encountered are more than happy to be petted, snuggle, and play.
Do you have a favorite pet you look after?
I don't like to pick favorites. I truly love all of the pets I watch (even the grumpy ones). That being said, there are some animals that hold special places in my heart. Some pets I've sat for just instantly connected with me. There are also many repeat clients, and so the more I see an animal, the more we tend to bond.
What breeds of dogs have you watched?
I've watched a lot of different breeds! So let me name off the ones I can think of..... Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Poodle, Standard Poodle, Australian Shepherd, Pit Bull, Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua, Beagle, Boxer, German Shepherd, Doberman, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Siberian Husky, Basset Hound, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Brittany Spaniel, Rat Terrier, Border Collie, Miniature Schnauzer, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Chinese Crested, Sheltie, Shar Pei, Cane Corso, Pomeranian, and lots and lots of mixed breeds.
Do you have a favorite breed of dog?
Again, I don't like to pick favorties. I'm slightly partial to beagles because I've had three and fostered a few. The majority of the pit bulls I've looked after have been extremely affectionate and sweet. (Don't believe everything you see in the media). But in general, I don't have one favorite breed, nor do I have one breed I don't like. I also do not have any breed restrictions.
Are you affiliated with a local animal shelter? I always see you posting animals available for adoption.
No. I do not work or volunteer for any local animal shelters. (If I had time, I would love to volunteer). I am a firm believer in animal adoption and rescue. There are so many animals in shelters that need loving homes. My three dogs and two cats are all rescues. I am not against getting an animal from a breeder, but will always advocate for rescue first. And, I will always advocate for finding reputable breeders if someone were to go that route. Since I cannot donate my time to shelters, I try to donate in other ways by sending money, goods, and sharing posts to spread awareness.
What kind of pets do you have?
I have three dogs and two cats.... for now! I would love to add to my family in the future, perhaps when we have a bigger home or more land. My pets are spoiled rotten and I don't deny that in any way. My dream would be to one day own a huge animal sanctuary for all of the homeless animals in the area that shelters cannot take in.