Taking Care of Other People’s Dogs: Could You Be a Pet Nanny?

Taking care of other people’s dogs: I watched a dear friend of mine reinvent herself as a pet nanny and end up with so much referral business that she never lacked for clients, spending anywhere from a weekend to two weeks as the live-in Mary Poppins Dog Whisperer. One weekend, she camped out in a cute, Cap Cod style house within walking distance of a pristine lake. Two weeks later, she was face-booking about the million dollar, sprawling designer home where she’d be staying for two weeks, taking care of a senior cat and a five year old miniature Poodle. In less than six months, her calendar was booked out for at least eight months, often with repeat clients.

When she decided that she wanted to pull up stakes and move back to her hometown of Chicago, she reprinted her pet nanny business cards, sold off all of her furniture and other sundries that would only weigh her down in her new life and, after packing up what she co9uldn’t live without, drove her blue Toyota pick up truck out to the windy city. Shortly after settling in, she sold the truck because that too was only going to weigh her down.

Once again, with almost no interruption, she started taking care of other people’s dogs. Her clients happily stock their refrigerators, allow her access to a car if necessary; going out of their way to insure that her pet nanny creature comforts are taken care of because they know that she will be taking care of the creature comforts of their animals. They do all of this for one reason. Hiring a live-in pet nanny gives them the peace of mind that comes from knowing their dogs lives are not jarringly disrupted by noisy kennel stays; there are no unsettling changes in routine.

So, when I heard from another friend of mine who had just started grad school and was looking for a part time job that would fit into her new life (she’d been laid off from a sales job and after doing a bit of soul searching had decided to go back to school), I suggested that she look into hanging out her shingle as a pet nanny. “You could,” I posted on her Facebook wall, “start taking care of other people’s dogs!”

We exchanged a flurry of emails.

“I’ll need a web site,” she wrote.

“Don’t be silly,” I wrote back. “Print up some business cards, let some of your dog friends know what you’re up to  and let the business come to you.”

She got busy and a month went by before I heard from her again.

“I can’t thank you enough … “, her next email began.  She’d landed her first client less than two weeks after handing out business cards. Her first canine client was a well-behaved, four year old mixed breed dog named Boswell that lived with his human family in a fairly affluent neighborhood. To her utter astonishment, this first gig netted almost $700.00. Not too shabby for a temporary live-in position taking care of other people’s dogs!

She was fielding calls from people who had read the flyers she’d posted around town and she was handing out business cards to people she’d met as she and Boswell were out walking; gig number two was already blocked out on her calendar.

Who would have thought that taking care of other people’s dogs could be fun, lucrative and seemingly easy to fall  into?

It won’t be fun if you don’t like dogs, have never had dogs and as a result of that, don’t know how to “speak dog.” It’s “easy to fall into” if you’re already a card-carrying member of the world of animal lovers so that you can tap into your own personal circle of family and friends when you’re just starting out. You “fall into things” that come from what your passions are. Which is to say that becoming a pet nanny may not be your next best thing. And that’s okay. I guarantee that if you look inside of yourself – if you figure out what it is that you’re really good at – you’ll fall into your own next gig.





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