Last week, I walked through the front door of our home (sometime shortly after 9:00pm), tossed my shoes in a corner, and then threw myself into bed next to Dan. "How was work?" he asked, referring, of course, to the fuller- and longer-than-normal day of dog walking and pet sitting I had just finished.
"Exhausting!" I exclaimed, but added quickly and without even thinking about it, "And so much fun!" I then proceeded to tell him stories of my dog walking and pet sitting adventures, even showing him cute pictures of some of my furry clients (because I'm kind of a dork like that). This is Coco, the cute one-eyed poodle I watch, who's sporting a new bow on her collar. This is Watson... check out his INTENSE blue eyes. I showed him a few other pictures too, because I just think my furry clientele are so gosh darn cute!
The next day, as I agonized over what to write for my next blog post, Dan suggested I tell people a little bit more about myself. "But I already have an 'About Me' section on the website," I replied. He noticed me squirming a little bit because, quite honestly, I don't really like talking about myself all that much. And, for sure, eking out that "About Me" page already felt too MeMeMeMeMeMe. "Besides," I asked, "what else is there to say?"
He smiled back and said, "Leave it to me. I'll write up some interview questions for you!"
And... that's how this post came about! Dan said that he wished others could have seen me in the moment that he saw me that night—tired, but happy, glowing, and enthusiastic about watching other people's pets. He also argued that people like to feel engaged with one another... that other people may actually want to know a little bit more about the person they entrust with their pets' safety, happiness, and well being, as well as the person who enters their homes on a fairly regular basis.
Sooooooo, here are the questions Dan wrote for me (who, btw, is already privy to the answers, but thought they were worth repeating to a larger audience) and my honest and heart-felt answers to them:
DAN: How did you decide you wanted to become a dog walker/pet sitter?
ME: Really, it was the "perfect storm" of events, circumstances, and timing. I'd recently left a full-time marketing and communications position at a local healthcare organization, and had also just put in my resignation with a small, liberal arts college, where I taught InDesign. I knew I wanted to start my own business (again), but wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. After sitting down and really putting my head into several ideas, I suddenly had an "ah ha!" moment. I already had an established group of "weekender" clients that were steadily growing via word of mouth, so why not try to fill in the weekday gaps by caring for pets full time? I registered as a licensed business, became insured and bonded, enrolled in a pet first aid class, built my website, then hit the pavement running... all in just a couple of weeks! And... that is how I got into the "business" of dog walking and pet sitting.
DAN: What do you like most about this line of work?
ME: The clients... both the furry ones and their parents! There are studies (too many to count or list) that pretty much conclude pets make people happy. In a typical day, I get purring adoration from cats, tail wags and face licks from small dogs, and heartfelt bear hugs from larger dogs. We go for walks, exchange hugs, tell each other about our days... and they're ALWAYS happy to see me! My furry clients are such a joy and pleasure to be around, and their parents are truly grateful and generous with their praise. Even dog walks during the worst of Portland's notoriously fickle weather are good dog walks for me! DAN: How can you be a dog walker/pet sitter and not have your own pets?
ME: But I did! And I've loved all of them! However, the last two pets I had—Sonja (my pup) and Clover (my kitty)—broke the molds of pet perfection. Unfortunately, both of them had some pretty serious health conditions in their senior years and eventually had to be put to sleep. Of the two, Sonja's disease (Cushing's disease) took the greatest toll on our lives. I cared for her as best I could for a year before making the decision to finally have her euthanized. The memories of their unconditional love is what inspires me to give the best possible care and attention to the furry clients I now have. DAN: Do you ever plan on having pets again?
ME: Maybe? Not right now, for sure, though. I'm really content spending time with other people's pets! They make me happy. DAN: Do you have "favorites"?
ME: I know this is going to sound crazy, but they're ALL my favorites! It usually takes about three or four visits for their personalities to really shine, but when they do... boy oh boy! I love the individual quirks and unique behaviors of each one of them. They're all so different, but yet they all love the same! DAN: If you could tell pet owners one important thing about their pets, what would it be?
ME: I know it's hard—what with life's daily distractions and all—but I want to tell pet parents how important it is to just be "in the moment" with their furry kids. When you come home, pay attention to your pets! During walks, put the cell phone down and engage fully with them! Play with them when they're looking for your attention. They'll tucker out eventually, and then you'll have plenty of time to play Word With Friends, check your e-mails, and settle in for some Netflix, later in the day.
DAN: What's ONE weird "fact" about you that not a lot of people know?
ME: That I'm color blind! Don't hold it against me if you tell me to use the "brown" raincoat for one pup and the "green" raincoat for another... and I just get it completely wrong!