Blog, Op-Ed

Damn it Feels Good to be a Pet Sitter

I recently came across an article on the Internet about pet sitting. More specifically, the article was a list of all the reasons why a person shouldn’t get into the business. I can understand that doing something for a very long time can lead to burnout and embitterment toward an industry, but I am coming at this from a very different perspective. I haven’t been doing this for decades (well, professionally at least), but I absolutely love what I do and I couldn’t say that about any other job I held before this. If I can spend decades of my professional life doing something I don’t even like, I’m sure I’ll be able to stick this one out.

The breakdown of the arguments in the article about why pet sitting was such an awful industry to work in was largely centered around not having holidays or weekends off. Maybe none of those people ever had to work a retail job in their lives where holidays and weekends are not considered “time off”. They don’t know how lucky they are then. Not so very long ago, I worked in just such a job. If I’m going to work weekends and holidays, you bet your butts I’d rather be doing that surrounded by animals instead of in the service of hurried, grouchy customers.

Another similar argument spoke to the long days in animal care. Now, my idea of a long day is one that starts before the sun is up and sees me grudgingly slamming the alarm off, getting ready, commuting for at least an hour, working 8-10 consecutive hours with no breaks, sitting in pointless, repetitive meetings and looking forward to that two hour commute home in rush hour traffic. But here, because I’m the owner, I create my own schedule based off my client’s needs. And guess what? I don’t drudge through a 8-10 hour non-stop shift. I go to one client’s house for a couple hours, maybe have some time in between before my next visit. I get to say when I start my day and when I end it. There are early mornings and late evenings, but they don’t include doing the same boring thing hour after hour, watching the clock, wishing I could be anywhere else but there.

In some of the comments to this article, a few people complained about the difficult clients you’ll encounter as a pet care provider as another reason to avoid this type of career. I wonder if they ever had someone scream in their face about the 10 cents that didn’t get deducted from an item at the register EVEN THOUGH IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE ON SALE! AND THEY HAVE THEIR KIDS IN THE CAR AND CAN’T STAND HERE FOREVER WAITING FOR THE MANAGER TO FIX IT!! And they hope that you’re happy that you wasted their time…by the way they’re going to report you for false advertising and have you FIRED!

Starting a pet care business is a lot of work. It takes up most of my time, and though I’m not a big “people person” I was fully aware that it’s not all cuddling up with puppies and kittens – those cuties come with human parents that I have to communicate with on a consistent basis. They expect a lot from their pet sitter because they’ve entrusted one of the most precious parts of their lives with you. But because I’ve lost many years working to promote someone else’s vision, working within a “company culture” and memorizing their values instead of living my own, I don’t agree with many of those who think that the aforementioned things aren’t worth dealing with in order to continue in pet care.

Not every job is going to be doing what you love all the time. I’m happy if I can do 80% of what I enjoy and 20% on the things I might not like so much. And that’s what this career gives me. I get to make a difference in the lives of the animals I care for and I help their human families feel secure in the knowledge that their babies are getting the love and attention they deserve. I get to decide how much work I can take on and how to handle difficult aspects of the job. So the cat had diarrhea…I’ve cleaned worse things off bathroom floors from people who know perfectly well how to use a toilet, they just choose not to. So bring on the “long days”, the weekends and holidays and the few and far between difficult clients. I’m proud to be a pet sitter, even with its challenges.



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