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What is a Professional Pet Sitter?

PSY 2011I am new to this blogging thing.  So I figured I would start off with an easy one.  What is a Professional Pet Sitter?  What distinguishes us from the rest?

Professional Pet Sitting isn’t just a hobby.  It is a passion.  It takes hard work, dedication, sometimes blood, lots of sweat and many, many tears.  

I started this business in 2006 and since then it has grown considerably.  I started with the basics.  I got a membership to Pet Sitters International (PSI).  I got a business licence.  I obtained liability insurance and bonding.  I was a professional now, right?  Oh, there was so much more.

Suddenly, I had to know my state’s tax laws!  I had to know accounting!  I had to come up with contracts and forms for my clients!  I had to be aware of liability and the fact that I was in and out of people’s homes caring for their furry children!  It suddenly took on a whole new level of responsibility.  

It was so much more than just playing with dogs and cats all day!  Thankfully I had back up.  I have used the resources at the Small Business Development Center.  I reached out, if only online, to PSI to help guide me through and took advantage of their internet forums.  I spoke to local pet sitters who became great friends.  We talk all the time.   We are each other’s sounding boards, emergency backup and a shoulder to cry on.

Now, I have a background with animals, as I am sure every pet sitter does.  But it reached much further than growing up with pets.  Thankfully, I also have a background working in the veterinary field.  I was comfortable and confident in giving medications to pets.  I can give insulin injections.  I knew the signs and symptoms to look for in a cat diagnosed with IBD, or the tricks to get pets to eat.  But there was still more to learn.

I read everything I could get my hands on about pets.  I took webinars and kept up to speed with local trainers classes (for us humans).  I volunteered with rescue organizations and understood why pets can go “shelter crazy”.

Then in 2010, I attended my first pet sitting conference.  Level up.  PSI has an educational conference each year.  It was 4 days of pure awesomeness.  I met with pet sitters from around the country.  I am not exaggerating when I say I met friends for life.  I got to talk to prominent people in the pet industry, our celebrities if you will.  Published authors and worldwide speakers.  I got to pick their brains and listen as they taught seminars and panels.  My brain was on overload.  I got to meet and learn from people in my profession whose businesses I admire and aspire to.  But we were all there to learn from each other.

This is not an easy job.  It is not for someone with a weak stomach.  It takes an incredible amount of passion and drive to make it successful.  I have had days where I worked so long there were blisters on my feet, my hair was matted with slobber, and I had eaten from the drive through all day because that’s all the time there was.  I have cleaned up more messes than you can even imagine.  Ones where I’m not kidding the dog exploded.  I have been pushed to my limits, yelled at, bruised and beaten by overzealous pets.  I have had emergencies and rushed pets to the Emergency Vet on Sunday because these things never happen during business hours.  I have cried and cried as pets pass, and I have held clients hands as their pets cross the Rainbow Bridge.

And yet I wake up every day thankful for what I do and how I get to spend my days.  I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

That, my friends, is what makes me a Professional Pet Sitter.