Categories
hmm... thoughts

Gone to the Dogs

Over the past couple of years we’ve slowly become dog sitters. Technically, Kristen has become a dog sitter and I’ve become the dog sitting administrator handling invoicing, accounting, and marketing. (Not that dissimilar a role I play at The Youth Cartel, now that I wrote it out like that.)

Dog sitting started very casually. Neighbors went out of town and we agreed to look after their pets and visa versa. We became known as the people who could do that. At some point I posted on Nextdoor that our teenagers were available to do the same, which they still do, and word spread.

Then I heard about Rover, an app that lets you find a pet sitter when you need one. Just for fun I signed up for an account. We got our first couple of bookings, which was cool.

And from there things have kind of taken off. Kristen took over the primary role and it’s built up from an occasional booking to regularly having a house full of dogs. (Up to four per day.)

Kristen set a record in October, then nearly broke in in November and then really did break it in December. It’s going well.

We do it because we like it and are home

So how is that dog thing going? Maybe you follow us on Instagram and you see us posting dog photos?

Here’s how it’s going:

It’s Fun

Kristen does it because she likes it. That’s the bottom line. We like dogs, we like having them around, we like walking them, and we think it’s fun for our dogs to have other dogs over. (Though they do get tired of having guests, so we do schedule in days without guests, too.)

We’re home

The original idea for doing boarding and daycare on a bigger scale came from talking to friends who take their dogs to a facility every day. It’s not a home, it’s not that flexible, and it’s pretty expensive.

In other words… we saw an opportunity.

Dog sitting works for our house because we’re home so much. Both Kristen and I work from home and while I spend a bunch of time in Mexico, I’m also not traveling as much or as far as I used to. So, in that sense, dog sitting is somewhat passive for us because we are home. The way our daily schedules generally works out there’s almost always someone home, so why not have a few dogs over to play?

It’s growing

I don’t know about your neighborhood… but in mine we have a pretty young demographic of people for whom, at this point in their lives, have dogs as a major part of their family. But they are also working long hours and traveling, a lifestyle that makes having a dog a challenge. That’s a problem Kristen’s dog sitting services can help with.

It’s meeting a practical need

For non-dog people you might not understand. But for dog people… in some ways you totally get it. There are times when you need someone to let your dog out because you’re working long hours, or you have a pup who destroys things at home because you’re at work and they have a lot of energy, or you want to go on vacation somewhere you can’t take your dog. For all of those things you need someone you can trust who will take care of your dog.

You need someone you can trust and your dog needs somewhere they can go that feels like home and doesn’t stress them out.

Whether you know it or not… these are real, practical needs for a lot of people. And San Diego is a transient place where people move here for work and don’t have a big network of friends who can take their dog while they go out of town for work or otherwise meet a need you have.

In other words, this is a need that people have and they are willing to spend some money to get what they need. For us, it’s a practical way to serve our community. We love dogs and we love our neighbors… so dog sitting is just combining those things.

Getting more official and stuff

A big part of what we’ve done the past few months, now that this is a thing, is get things set up better. In some ways we’ve outgrown Rover as about half of our bookings are people we’ve met here in Rolando. And in other ways we’re realizing we just need to be better since its growing.

So we’ve added stuff like special insurance, accounting software, some equipment, joined a professional organization, and even subscribed to a Bark Box so we can have extra treats and toys. And we’re looking at ways we can serve the dog-loving public better, too.

It’s still pretty fledgling but it’s also becoming a piece of the pie for Kristen work-wise… and she’s having fun with it, which is rad!

Where is it going? Who knows? Maybe in 6 months we’ll get sick of it and quit. But maybe we’ll grow it, too? At this point… we’re still learning.

We’re getting better at it, too

The last thing I’ll add is that as we do this longer Kristen is getting much, much better and more professional along the way. We take way less risk than we did at the beginning. We are way better at screening dogs, making sure that when there are multiple dogs that all the personalities will work. We have routines to avoid pitfalls like dogs fighting or playing so hard that another dog gets hurt.

Kristen is growing all sorts of new skills and it’s super fun to observe!

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

Leave a Reply