What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
We typically discuss the basics of the potential client's situation vie email or over the phone (or via messages on services such as Thumbtack) first to determine if our services will be a good fit for their needs, then set up a meeting time at their location if we think we can help them. At the meeting, we go over the desired routine, emergency and medical information, etc. and pick up any keys that we will need. There is no charge for the initial meeting. Any sitter who will be working with that client's pet(s) will be brought over to meet the pet(s) and see where everything relevant is before doing any job solo. We do not send a sitter anywhere for the first time without the client's permission.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
As a professional pet sitter and member of Pet Sitters International (PSI), I receive and read monthly publications geared toward professional pet sitters, attend industry conferences annually, and read up on the latest in pet care every week.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your service? If so, please share the details here.
We charge per visit. As long as everything can be done within the allotted time, we don't charge customers based on the number of pets, type of pets, medications to be given, house sitting tasks included, etc.
30-minute visits (standard) - $20.00 each normally, $30.00 on major holidays (e.g., Fourth of July)
Overnight visits - $65.00 each normally (includes a dinnertime visit and is just $5.00 more than separate dinner, night, and morning visits), $115.00 on major holidays.
We will also do visits longer than 30 minutes when needed.
45-minute visit - $26.00 regular rate
60-minute visit - $30.00 regular rate
60+ minutes - $30.00 + $5.00 per additional 15 minutes regular rate
How did you get started doing this type of work?
Pet sitting seemed like a natural fit for me after studying Animal Physiology at the University of Toronto but deciding not to become a veterinarian. It's a good mix of animal and human interactions, gets me out and about every day, and allows me to get to know more wonderful pets than I could ever own myself.
What types of customers have you worked with?
We do regular dog walks every week for many customers, usually once per day for 30 minutes each time but twice per day or 45 minutes for some customers.
Most of our customers use us for pet sitting during vacations, business trips, or special events. We will do single visits here and there, long vacations that last over a month, or any amount of days in between. A typical schedule for dogs is three or four times per day (or midday, dinnertime and overnight for most of our overnight customers), with some dogs getting visits just twice per day. Many small animals are fine with one visit per day if they are not on twice-daily medications or likely to gorge themselves when fed once per day.
We also work with clients with horses, donkeys, chickens, and a variety of other species.
Every pet and every situation is a little bit different, so we work with our customers to come up with the right pet sitting or dog walking routine.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
We get an unfortunate number of new customers who were burned by unreliable or incompetent hobby pet sitters. Don't let that happen to you! Look for a company or individual that realizes the seriousness of this work as well as the fun side and makes taking care of customers' pets a top priority. Any serious sitter in it for the long haul should have liability insurance. Doing this work well is not as easy as many people think--there's much more to it than just loving the animals, though that's certainly very important.