As a pet sitter and business owner, no two days are ever the same. When I’m describing my life to people at the dog park, I always say “some mornings you wake up in a beachside mansion with a dog trained by Caesar Milan, and other mornings you wake up in a trailer with a dog taking a dump on the pillow, right next to your face, literally.” That’s exactly what I love so much about it, though. While everyone I grew up with is going to the same cubicle, staring at the same screen day-in and day-out, I get PAID to hang out with DOGS while exploring new places and learning about peoples lives. I know, it sounds crazy, but this has been my life for almost six years, and oh boy do I have stories…
Most mornings, I’m startled awake around 7am by one dog kicking me in the ribs, while another leaps on top of me. I like to take the dogs for a nice walk in the mornings to get the mind working and the day going right. It’s not unusual for my days to start as early as 4am, depending on how many drop-in visits I have scheduled. After our walk, I head out to do my first morning visits, and then to pick up dogs for our daily play groups.
Most clients choose drop-in visits of some kind, so those take up the majority of my day. Typically, a visit is 30 minutes and a client will either get three a day (morning, midday, evening) or will get one midday visit. The visits themselves vary from playing with puppies to scooping horse stalls and everything in-between. I care for all animals and my services are fully customizable, specifically because I never want two days to be the same. Over years of doing these drop-in visits, I’ve learned how to administer any kind of medicine you can name, I’ve been trained on how to deal with aggressive animals, I’ve helped birth puppies, and I’ve been with several dogs as they crossed the rainbow bridge. I’ve also become pretty decent at basic training and basic grooming in the process. When you spend all day hanging out with animals, you just become adept on talking their language in general.
Between my morning and midday drop-in visits, I take a group of dogs to a dog park for a couple hours to get their energy out and socialize. I started taking a dog that I was walking to the park several ago because I realized the walk wasn’t enough to get his energy out. After getting him acclimated to park, I could tell he not only was calm afterwards, he was also in a better place mentally because of the socialization. Seeing this, I immediately started a daily group which has become a great alternative to doggie day care in our area! My Monday, Wednesday, Friday group goes to a large free dog park, and my Tuesday, Thursday group goes on customized adventures to nature trails and various places around town. It’s also great for the owners because they don’t have to worry about dropping their dogs off at daycare on the way to work. I will be posting a full guide to the best places to take your dog in Jacksonville soon!
Between my midday and evening visits is typically my ‘Admin Time.’ For a couple hours a day, I make the schedules and invoices for my team of pet sitters, prepare marketing, and meet with new clients and other people in the pet care world. I actually use to have a much larger team of sitters but downsized because I didn’t get into pet care to sit in front of a computer or sit in meetings, I got into pet care because I love animals! I am now growing my business again with a different approach and structure, which I will share more about along the line.
In the evenings, I provide overnight care for families traveling out of town that need more than a drop-in visit. I typically get to the home around dinner time and stay until it’s time for my first drop-in visit the next morning. Most people will book me four or five nights at a time, though some only need me for one night or to stay for months! I love doing overnight stays, not just because I’m getting paid to cuddle with dogs, but because this is where I really get to learn about other walks of life. They say you never understand someone until you walk a mile in his shoes, I say try sleeping next to his dog! In 2016, I actually sold my condo and all of my furniture to do overnight stays full time, which means I go from house to house living completely rent free.
Yep, you read that right. For over two years, I have paid no rent, no utilities, nothing for internet, and I’ve spent nothing on décor and useless knickknacks. I will be posting a ton of information in the coming months about how I’ve made this possible, what it’s like, and how you can do it too!