A professional pet sitter can provide us with extra peace of mind when we leave our pets behind. This is so important because we view our pets as family. We can relax as we leave our beloved pets behind, knowing they’re in good hands.
Jenny Lee is Vice President of the National Capital Area Professional Pet Sitters Network (NCAPPS). They’re in the Metro D.C. (US) area. If you’re not in D.C, look at the bottom of this blog for links to other areas.
I hope you find my interview with Jenny Lee, owner of Doodlebug Dog Walker, as useful as I do.
This blog has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The benefits of a professional pet sitter
Why use a professional pet sitter when we can hire a neighbor or go to a pet sitter app?
Licensed, bonded, insured
Well, professional pet sitting companies and their sitters are licensed, bonded and insured. And those are so important, not only to the well-being of your pets, but also your home.
For example, Doodlebug covers your pet if anything happens to them, covers your home if anything happens regarding pet sitting and your pet sitter if anything happens while they’re in your home. So no matter what happens while you’re gone, we take responsibility for those things.
Professional pet sitters are trained and background-checked
And you’re getting a trained sitter who has had a criminal background check. My company has an extensive five-part training process. And if the sitter has a question, they can contact our office. Someone’s always available to help them about where the extra treats are or through an emergency.
Pet sitter emergencies
Even if the sitter did have an emergency, I’m going to take care of your pets. I’ll either find another pet sitter or do your visit myself. And that’s something you’re not going to get if it’s just one person..
Professional pet sitters follow pet guardian directions
It’s always what the client wants. Clients fill out a profile of their pets. And before the pet sitters go into a house, they must read their entire profile.
Additionally, clients have a direct line of communication to their pet sitters along with my administrative staff via text.
Advice to new pet guardians
Some people in my company have been working with dogs for over 10 years. We sometimes have a client who’s gotten their first dog ever. In that case, we offer advice. We offer observations from interacting with their animal. But we’ll never change anything unless the client has given us explicit instructions and permission.
How do guardians help create a good working relationship with their professional pet sitter?
Before you go out of town, we’ll come to your home while you’re there and meet you and your pets at the same time. That way, your pets can see you welcoming us into your home. We get to meet them. We get to interact with them. It’s not only dogs that need this; cats probably need this introduction more than most dogs.
But letting us know about your pet’s behavior is super helpful. If you know that your pet is a puller on the leash, so you never walk them, let us know so we’re prepared. If this is your first puppy, tell us and we can walk through this together. Or tell us how your cat likes to play.
We want to enjoy that relationship and provide them the emotional and mental stimulation that they miss from having their human home.
Why do people become pet sitters?
Pet sitting is rewarding. After the first month of working for me, new professional pet sitters tell me, “I didn’t realize how much I needed this.”
If you’re walking dogs, you get to be outside, get some exercise and get that benefit of sunshine. But on this emotional level, I say, “I have my dog and then I have hundreds of surrogate dogs!” Because you develop this lovely connection with all of these wonderful animals. We get this opportunity to share in the love that these animals bring.
And sometimes we get years of building a relationship with these pets! It’s wonderful and so fulfilling.
Finding the right professional pet sitter
Not every employee is going to be the right fit for every client. So don’t be afraid to just say, “This person was super sweet, I’m glad I got to meet them. But I think that for my needs, I want something more along the lines of X, Y and Z.”
Because we would rather match you to the right pet sitter for your needs while you’re gone so that you’re not worrying. Make sure you’re comfortable.
NCAPPS – The Professional Pet Sitters Network
After my business partner decided to move onto her next challenge, I was excited to have the NCAPPS network. With NCAPPS, I connect with other industry business owners. We all need someone to understand hardships or share celebrations of our businesses! As an example, this community got me through the pandemic!
This community of professional pet sitters supports each other!
Jenny Lee is Vice President of the National Capital Area Professional Pet Sitters Network (NCAPPS). She started her company, Doodlebug Dog Walker, in 2009.
After she became a sole owner of the company, she realized that she wanted to connect with other business owners in her industry, and this led her to NCAPPS.
NCAPPS comprises independently-owned pet care businesses whose owners are committed to excellence in professional pet sitting, community outreach and involvement.
As Vice President, Jenny helped the network through the many complications of Covid, which helped her find strength to keep her own business afloat.
Resources from Jenny:
Doodlebug Dog Walker (Jenny’s company): www.doodlebugdogwalker.com
NCAPPS: www.ncapetsitters.com – includes a search tool for those in the local Metro D.C. area, USA
Pet Sitters International: https://www.petsit.com/– nationwide pet sitter searches
Resources from Maribeth:
5 Things Your Pets Want You to Know (PDF)
The Path to Peace: Navigating the Last Leg of your Beloved Animal’s Life (video)