Professional Pet Sitter Week: Celebrating Real Life Pet Sitters
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
As we wrap up Professional Pet Sitter Week I checked in with three different pet sitters who are all at different places in their pet sitting careers and who all love the work that they are doing with animals. Dawn Hernandez is the owner of Walkin & Waggin Pet Concierge of Long Island, New York and fellow member of the American Pet Professionals, with over twenty years of experience. Katherine B. is my own personal pet sitter and unofficially adopted family member who has been caring for animals part time while working and going to college, and Denise G. is a personal friend of mine who is two weeks into a brand new career as she follows her dream of working with dogs.
Here is what each of them had to say about the job of being a pet sitter.
Dawn Hernandez, Walking & Wagging Pet Concierge, www.walkinwagginpetconcierge.com
Lynn Stacy-Smith: How did you get started as a pet sitter?
Dawn Hernandez: I actually started by my PASSION, and my passion grew through years of sharing my life with canines and learning so many life lessons from them. They have been some of the best teachers I have had and changed my life in so many good ways, always reminding me what is important in life. It is through dogs that I have found my solace, my serenity. Back in the 90s I was literally pet sitting numerous friends, family and neighbors. I was constantly so busy that as a joke a dear friend of mine said, “Hey! You should do this as a living, and the rest is history.”
Lynn Stacy-Smith: And how long have you been working as a pet sitter?
Dawn Hernandez: I’ve owned my own business for twenty years and became bonded/insured in 2000 after learning how much I love being able to help people have a stress free lifestyle and being able to travel with ease and peace of mind.
Lynn Stacy-Smith: What are your best memories of the dogs who you have cared for?
Dawn Hernandez: My best memories are taking the journey with some wonderful furry four-legged babies and being there even in the end. It was beautiful knowing my presence became just as important to them as their owners. In the end the owners/clients wanted me to be fido’s last sight as well as theirs.
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Do you have any laugh-out-loud moments that you can share with readers?
Dawn Hernandez: One day I walked in the home of a regular client of mine who has been with me for over four years. I frantically called for her because I could not find her, a Tibeten Terrier named Moli. I called her name and looked high and low, but she was nowhere in sight! Finally I looked in strange places and found her sound asleep deep in a closet! Moli just looked at me like I was crazy and I had to laugh out loud because I was in a frantic frame of mind and I scooped her up and kissed her like I never wanted to go. She just seemed to want to go back to sleep!
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Do you have any dogs with whom you have formed a special bond?
Dawn Hernandez: I share a special bond with each and every client, they are all special to me. I feel like they are my own pets and the bond we grow is so magical, I can’t think of the day I will no longer spend with them. There is no love like an animal’s love, it’s ingrained in my DNA. You also get to be the person who walks in the door and is greeted by an excited dog who can’t wait to go for a walk a couple times a day. It’s just about the best feeling in the world to walk into house after house and get greeted like you’re a rock god! Bad moods evaporate on impact!
If you are in the Long Island area, Dawn Hernandez services zip codes 11755 ,11767, 11779 , 11725, 11706 , 11780, 11787, 11788, 11730, 11752, 11751 .11749 .11795, 11746,11754 plus other surrounding areas. Check out her website for the Walkin & Waggin Pet Concierge: http://www.walkinwagginpetconcierge.com.
Katherine B., Pet Sitter, Oswego/Montgomery/Yorkville, Illinois
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Katherine, how did you get started as a pet sitter, and how long have you been doing it?
Katherine B: I got started because you and I were talking in the lobby where I worked and I jokingly offered my services, and things just went from there. I guess it’s been a few years ago since the first time!
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Well, you have no idea how happy I am to have found you! What are your best memories of pet sitting?
Katherine B: My best memories are honestly cuddling with the animals. Dogs or cats, I feel such a bond once we have shared a cuddle. I guess that’s weird if you aren’t an animal person!
Lynn Stacy-Smith: No, I totally understand! Do you have a bond with any particular animals?
Katherine B: I have a bond with all of the animals I watch. After being with them on so many occasions for periods of time, you just get to know them. They are like my family, each and every one.
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Jax and Tink definitely adore you! Sometimes I don’t think they cared that we were gone, which is a good thing! So do you have any funny moments with the animals you’ve cared for?
Katherine B: Honestly, your dogs make me laugh all the time! They are so silly when they play bitey-face or even just the little quirks that they have.
Denise G., Pet Sitter, Yorkville, IL and Surrounding Areas
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Congratulations on your new career! When did you get started as a pet sitter?
Denise G: I just signed up on Rover a couple weeks ago. And within a day I received my first dog walking client! I also have an overnight stay booked. So far, two clients and one pending.
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Awesome! What made you decide to pursue a career as a pet sitter?
Denise G: Well, I always thought about doing something that involved being around dogs. So I tried going to a friend that owns her own doggie daycare to help out, and I went there once and I loved it. So I thought of doing dog walking and drop in visits myself. It is my intention to do this full time.
Lynn Stacy-Smith: How long have you been a dog owner?
Denise G: I have had dogs most of my life. I unfortunately had to put down my Golden Retreiver due to an aggressive form of cancer on January 12 of this year. He was my life and I miss him very much. I know my calling is to take care of animals one way or another, it’s my passion and makes me happy to see their smiling faces.
Lynn Stacy-Smith: Well, I’m excited to add you to the extremely short list of people I trust with my dogs, and I can’t wait to watch your business grow! My dogs loved their walk with you!
If you are within a 20 mile range of Yorkville, Illinois, check out Denise G. on Rover.com. Denise is an experienced dog owner and truly loves animals.
There are tons of amazing pet sitters out there who are working hard to take care of our beloved pets while we are away at work or on vacation. They definitely make our lives easier and less stressful when we know that someone who loves our dogs and cats is caring for them in our absence. Thank you to all of the pet sitters who put us at ease on a regular basis!