There are many ways to translate your love of animals into your vocation. Here are just a few of the hundreds of things you can do with or for animals or their owners that I dug up on the web.
1. Take Care of Them
If you love dogs and cats you may want to consider establishing yourself as a professional pet sitter. Start by visiting the websites of other pet sitters in your area. That way you’ll get an idea of prices and possible add-on services. For example, Candy Bird of Pampered Pet Sitting was recently featured in my local newspaper.
Candy specializes in a rural area here in Western Massachusetts known as the Hill Towns. She charges $12-15 per dog and $8-10 per cat. Candy has a set rate of $50 for weekly care for one pet (more for 2) and charges extra for administering medication, nail trimming, and driving pets to appointments.
In the article, Candy recommended pet sitters be bonded and insured. Bonding offers the home owner security against theft. Pet insurance (who knew!) covers you in the event something happens to the pet while in your care.
You can learn more about pet sitting insurance at Pet Sitters International of which Candy is a member. Insurance rates vary depending on the coverage options you choose. The rates for the liability insurance range from $254 to $590 or more and for the bonding from $50 – $300 or more.
I thought I’d check on some city rates so I headed over to Uptown Walkers in Chicago. They charge $35 for pet sitting and also offer dog walking services at $12 for a half an hour walk and feeding. As a nice value-added service Uptown Walkers will also water your plants, bring in mail and newspapers, adjust blinds and drapes, and rotate turning lights on in the home promoting home security. It was not clear though if this costs extra. Visit them at
Pet Sit Canada offers an ebook called Starting a Pet Sitting Business in Canada: A Manual for Beginners. All proceeds from the sale of this guide go to the Canadian Pet Sitters Association
Pet Sitters International puts out a glossy magazine called The World. I decided to click on an article called Top 10 Reasons NOT To Travel With Your Pets by Thom Somes. Now if Thom had simply had a link to his site I may have skimmed the title and moved on. But under Thom’s name it said, The Pet Safety Guy. When I saw that I thought, now here’s a guy who knows how to brand himself as an expert! Which leads me to income stream #2.
2. Teach People About Them
Pet Safety Guy, Thom Somes, runs courses for pet owners, pet lovers,owners of pet-related businesses like veterinarians, pet walkers, sitters, trainers and others. His California-based company, Pet Tech, offers a 3-day pet safety training program. Once you take the course you can then offer it to your clients.
According to the website:
“Pet Tech supports its instructors with marketing strategies,
advertising materials, public relations and a student referral program. As a qualified Pet Tech instructor, you can fulfill an important need for pet owners and increase your revenues as well as the following:
- Increase the success of your business
- Attract new clients
- Be part of a fun and exciting industry
- Offer additional services to existing clients
The Instructor Training is ideal for: obedience trainers, kennel
operators, pet retailers, pet sitters, veterinarian staff, animal
shelter employees, pet rescue personnel, pet groomers, EMT’s, fire
fighters, and any pet lover.”
A course just ran in Atlanta and more are scheduled for California and Pennsylvania. The rest of the 2003 schedule is not up yet so there may well be a course coming up in your area. If not, maybe you can help organize one.
3. Train Them to Behave
After getting my dog, Cokie Roberts (no relation to the highly respected journalist), from a local no-kill animal shelter, I hired a young woman to come to the house to give us private training lessons. I say “us” because so much of dog training is teaching the owner the commands and to follow through. She charged the same as if I’d taken a class and the convenience factor was priceless. Cokie easily mastered “sit,” “down,” and “leave it.” A very determined boy, he’s still working on “come.”
If you have an interest in learning to be a dog trainer, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has established and seeks to maintain a series of standards for professional competence in pet dog training by certifying dog training professionals. Exams are held in 15 states and candidates who pass the exam will earn the title Certified Pet Dog Trainer and may use the designation, “CPDT,” after their names. The CPDT holds their annual conference and trade show each September.
4. Bake for Them
Take two trends – the quest for natural foods and the fact that people are spending more than ever to pamper their pets – and you’ve got the makings of a winning business. P.C.’s Pantry,Inc., a bakery and deli for dogs and cats in Boulder, Colorado, specializes in “Barkday” cakes for pet parties, “meat loaves,” and homemade biscuits in 18 varieties including Bark-B-Q, Choco-Lab-Brownie, and Pup-kin. They also offer pet-related gifts for pet-lovers, a line of holistic pet foods and supplements, and a delivery service.
5. Heal Them, Board Them, Consult About Them, Sell Health Food for Them, Write About Them… Or All of the Above!
One of my clients was interested in opening a dog spa complete with a small cafe where dogs and their owners were both welcome. So, I decided to do a little research. That’s when I found Cindy (I never was able to find her last name), a former accountant who heard her calling to heal animals using warm water therapy.
As it turns out Cindy is also a very enterprising small business owner who has not one, not two, but six income streams all feeding right into her passion for dogs. (That is if I counted them all.)
After working for many years with horses, twelve years ago, Cindy opened LaPaw Spa and Mountain Meadows health retreat boarding center in Redmond, Washington. She also opened a health store offering nutritional support and alternatives and has an eBook. (Can you say “multiple income streams”?!)
One of Cindy’s sidelines, and the one I found so unique, is if you want to open your own warm water healing spa, she’ll travel to your site to consult with you! The purpose of the “mentoring service for people interested in getting started with their own spa business” is to “help to get you on the right track, give you ideas about the necessary equipment, and hopefully, keep you from going through some of the trials and tribulations that she went through before she came up with the perfect system that she has now.”
Cindy also offers phone consultations to dog owners who have questions, need encouragement, have access to a pool and would like some custom help for or about their disabled or aging dog. Oh yes, she’s also working on an eBook.
You can learn about Cindy’s training through the Worldwide Aquatic Bodywork Association and her wide range of services here.
If nothing else, visit the page that features the beautiful photos of her tranquil home and just listen to the birds sing here.
These are just a few of the many ways to make a living working with animals. If you love animals and want to find a way to turn your passion into your living, invest some time to bark up the right tree. Because, when you love what you do, you are truly living in the “lap” of luxury!